Girls In Gangs

Young girls are increasingly being sucked into the macho and male-dominated world of gangs, but what is gang life really like from a female perspective?

As well as the general anxieties of gang life like fearing the police and attacks from enemy gangs there’s the added pressure of having to fit in with male gang members. At best this means girls struggle to prove themselves by doing the dirty work for the boys, and at worst this can drive girls to dangerous extremes.

Plus, because there are no rules in gang world, being a girl doesn’t stop them from being a target, and a relatively easy one at that.

Ex-gang member Nequela Whittaker, who features in episode 3 and who now runs a mentoring programme for young girls trying to escape gang life, helped us with the content of this article.

How do girls get into gangs?

Usually girls enter gang life when they’re still at school and often they get looped in by boyfriends who are already in gangs. Sometimes they might just fall into the wrong friendship groups.

What are girls’ roles in gangs?

Girls are very useful to male gang members, which is why many get exploited. Although there’s not much opportunity to climb the ranks, girls often have to prove themselves by doing a lot of the risky dirty work that nobody else wants to do. Girls often seem less suspicious to the authorities so are given tasks like hiding weapons, disposing of evidence and hiding drugs in their homes.

They’re also useful for selling drugs as they don’t get stopped in their cars as much by police. Some gang girls nowadays start off selling drugs for male members but end up running their own business.

Girls have to look and behave in a masculine way because, no matter how deep into gang life girls get, behaving like their male counterparts is still the only way to win respect.

What are the dangers?

Girls can be seen as easy targets by opposing gang members so their safety is very much at risk. Whether they’re targeted by gangs who want to steal their drugs or for inter-gang revenge, it’s a dangerous life to lead.

Many girls in gangs take part in extreme violence, using dangerous weapons and attacking individual girls from other gangs on mass. Violence is normalised and, in a world where girls feel especially vulnerable to attack, the weapons they’re using are getting more dangerous and their attacks more vicious.

But it’s not just rival gangs – there’s danger much closer to home. Young girls are especially vulnerable to pressures from gang members who they look up to and admire, especially when the pressure is coming from a boyfriend. Their older gang ‘boyfriend’ can become their pimp, making them prostitute themselves and then taking the money, as we see in Cherelle’s storyline.

Girls are often manipulated into having sex with male gang members. Often, if something goes wrong, they may be told they have to have sex with someone as a result. They can be mislead into thinking it’s only one person they have to have sex with and lead somewhere, only to discover that there are more boys ready and waiting to join in. There are also specific roles within gangs for girls who recruit other girls to have sex with gang members.

Giving into this kind of pressure is often easier than putting up a fight and the danger is that this pattern of behaviour becomes normalised. These girls may feel not only that they have no other option, but may blame themselves for getting involved in the first place (which is all part of the manipulation). This kind of sexual violation is unfortunately commonplace.

I’m a girl in a gang who wants to get out… what can I do?

While gang life is generally traumatic in the long-run, girls get an especially sour deal and are often completely exploited. Sometimes it’s hard to see that you’re being exploited when you’re so used to being treated in a certain way and it’s become normalised, but it’s important to recognise that you’re worth more than what you’re getting – whether that’s being put in scary situations to cover other peoples’ tracks or used for sex.

Childline and The Mix have great helplines and resources if you feel you need to talk to someone and St Giles Trust and Gangsline run great services to support gang members who want to get out.

If you’re afraid you’re being sexually exploited, NSPCC has a great information page and resources specifically about sexual exploitation. They also run a special service for girls between 11-19 who are at risk of being or have been sexually exploited – click here for more information.

There are also books written by former gang members that may help. Try Sour: My Story by Tracey Miller and “Street Girl” by Nequela Whittaker, which follows Nequela’s personal story as an ex-gang member from Brixton.

 

St Giles Trust 

Gangsline 

Sex Pod: The bottom line

This week on Sex Pod we met Kiefer who was feeling very nervous about having anal sex. Even though he had done it before, he said that he had become very anxious when anyone touched his anus – which obviously was NOT having a great effect on his libido and overall experience.

So he came in to ask Sex Pod a question that had been on his mind – “can the anus tear while having anal sex?”

NEVER FEAR Kiefer, knowledge is power and Sex Pod has all the answers. SO, for Kiefer and for all of you who’ve had similar fears, let’s talk anal sex and the risks involved!

Anal sex – what is it and why do it?

Anal sex is any type of sex that involves the anus, whether that’s oral sex or penetration with sex toys, fingers or a penis.

While anal sex can be pleasurable for women, it can be especially pleasurable for men due to their prostate, which is an erogenous gland located in their pelvis that can be stimulated via penetrative anal sex.

What do you need to have anal sex?

First thing’s first, you’re gonna need to use a condom. That’s because you can not only get STIs like chlamydia and genital herpes from anal sex, but you are also more likely to get blood-borne infections like HIV and Hepatitis B and C.

In fact, penetrative anal sex is the most risky type of sex for contracting STIs, so it’s REALLY important you use protection.

You’ll also need to use plenty of lubrication (or lube) to make the experience as comfortable and as pleasurable as possible, because without lubricant the lining of the anus is more likely to tear and cause discomfort.

Just make sure it’s a water based lube as oil-based ones can break condoms!

What can go wrong?

Unlike the vagina, the anus is NOT elastic and its lining is very thin and easy to damage.

What does this mean? It means you need to be extra gentle and careful during sex, and that you may bleed a bit – especially if it is your first time having anal sex, if the sex is rough, or if you have a haemorrhoid. The bleeding is nothing to worry about if it lasts a couple of days, but any more than that and you’ll need to go to your GP to get it checked out.

You could also get an infection due to the bleeding, so it’s important to get yourself checked out if you spot anything out of the ordinary.

The good news is that, while you could experience tears, infections or discomfort, penetrative anal sex is UNLIKELY to cause any serious injury.

Fisting or penetration through larger sex toys, however, can cause serious injury if you aren’t careful as there is a chance of perforating your colon, which is actually a surgical emergency. So if you are having anal sex and experiencing severe abdominal pain (one of the symptoms) then you should IMMEDIATELY get checked out.

How can I have good anal sex?

If you are going to be on the receiving end of penetrative anal sex, it is important that you are relaxed, comfortable, and that you TRUST your sexual partner.

Like any other type of sex, foreplay and lubrication is key and your partner has to be very considerate of how you’re feeling every step of the way so that you can relax – it is important that you know they’ll stop or slow down if you give the word. These factors will make sure your anus is relaxed rather than tensed up so will allow for an overall more pleasurable experience.

WORD OF WARNING: like we always say, porn is not real sex – you shouldn’t feel pressured to keep up with it in the bedroom IRL. Anal sex is actually all about taking it easy, being considerate, and only doing what feels good for you.

Sex Pod: foreskin fact and fiction

This week, Ophir came in to ask Sex Pod for the low-down on circumcised penises, and whether they’re actually more sensual in the sack.

“Does circumcision make sex more pleasurable for a woman?” she asked. And we’re glad she did.

Circumcision is the procedure of removing the foreskin from the penis, and it’s not uncommon – it’s popular among many cultures and religions, though it’s often done for medical reasons too.

But what does being circumcised actually mean for the man? And what, more importantly in Ophir’s eyes, does it mean for the woman having sex with him?

What is the foreskin?

The foreskin is the double layered fold of skin that covers the penis, but that can be pulled back to uncover its head.

The fact that circumcision is widely practiced suggests that the foreskin is not an absolutely necessary part of the penis. So what is it actually for?

The foreskin is largely protective – it stops the glans (the rounded tip of the penis, and the most sensitive part) from rubbing against clothing or getting damaged. BUT it also contains a lot of nerve receptors so can provide extra pleasure.

What are the differences between a circumcised and an uncircumcised penis?

A penis that has been circumcised will need more lubrication during foreplay, whereas an uncircumcised penis already has natural lubrication.

Some men who are circumcised can also be less sensitive during sex due to the fact that the penis no longer has a protective layer (the foreskin) and has had to toughen up to protect itself.

What do women prefer?

Ok, so a penis without a foreskin looks different to one with a foreskin.

And Ophir told Sex Pod that she prefers circumcised penises to look at, describing them as “prettier” and seemingly “cleaner” than when they are uncircumcised, though she did admit that the idea that one is cleaner than the other was probably psychological.

Generally, though, no size fits all! While some women may prefer the idea of a circumcised penis, others may not like it at all, it just depends on the person and, often, that persons’ culture or upbringing.

Sex Pod sexpert Rebecca Dakin said she didn’t think there was any difference on the receiving end for women having sex with an uncircumcised or circumcised penis.

So there you have it! The only real difference for women is aesthetic, as sex for her stays largely the same – it really is all down to what tickles her fancy…

Until next week Sex Pod-ers!

Livin’ Libido Loca

This week Oli came in to ask Sex Pod for some advice. “I’ve got a very high libido,” he said, “and it’s out of control, what do I do?”

Glad you asked Oli! Our sex professionals are always happy to help.

The reason Oli was worried about his high sex drive, or high libido, is he felt that going without doing the naughty put him in a foul mood and made him behave aggressively to others. He said he felt he needed to have sex twice a day, and that it made him feel on top of the world whenever he did.

What determines your libido?

As our sex professionals pointed out, libido is not set in stone. You aren’t born with a high libido or a low libido, it changes throughout your life. It depends on your experiences and on psychological factors, like if someone is bipolar and in a manic phase they are more likely to have a very high sex drive and have more sexual partners.

It also depends on things like stress and exhaustion (which can really take out the sexy in life).

So just because Oli felt like he wanted to have sex twice a day and thought about it 50-60% of the time, doesn’t mean he’s always felt that way, and it doesn’t mean he’ll always feel that way.

Can your libido cause you problems?

Whether you have little or an overwhelming desire for sex, libido can cause problems in relationships.

In Oli’s case, it used to cause arguments between him and his girlfriend as whenever she said no to sex he couldn’t understand why and thought it was because she didn’t fancy him as much as he fancied her.

When a couple have different sex drives it can cause rifts. The person who wants more sex may feel frustrated, guilty for asking their partner to have sex when they don’t want to, or rejected – they might feel, like Oli, that their partner doesn’t desire them. They could also feel like there’s something wrong with them, for wanting sex as much as they do.

The person who wants less sex can also feel guilty for not being able to satisfy their partner’s desire, or feel pressured to have sex when they don’t want to.

So you can see how different libidos within relationships can cause problems.

How common is it to have different libidos in relationships?

Having said this, couples who have different libidos are VERY common. And, because libido is so dependent on other factors, there’s no reason to assume that it is simply a loss of desire for the other person. Many people go into relationships with the same libido and things change over time, but remember they can easily change again!

What can I do if my libido is causing problems?

There are actually some things you can do to decrease your high libido. For example, taking up sports will use up some of that extra energy, and taking up mindfulness or yoga is a good way to relax and take your mind away from the subject of sex.

Equally, if you feel like you have an addiction to sex and it’s causing you anxiety or stress, you can definitely go to see a doctor who would help you get in touch with a psychologist or psycho therapist. There are always people who can help clear things up about why you might be addicted to sex and who can offer you support.

The same if you are suffering from low libido, which happens to most people at some point in their life. If your sex life has become a stress, it’s always worth seeking help –  sex is meant to be enjoyable, and it would be a shame to miss out.

Till next time Sex Pod-ers!

Why do younger guys fancy cougars?

This week Sami, Moses, Hamza and Mohamed came in to ask Sex Pod the question: “Why are younger guys into older women?”

When asked, the guys all said they thought older women (or ‘cougars’) are super sexy, though while some said that the oldest woman they would go for would be in her mid-thirties, others said they’d sleep with a woman who was even in her 50s and 60s.

The guys reckoned that cougars sometimes liked bedding younger men too, because younger men’s penises were still young and full of life, and they were likely to have more stamina in the bedroom.

Hmmm… But what did Sex Pod have to say about all this? Why are younger guys often attracted to older women?

Sexual experience

The one thing that older women definitely have is more experience. They are likely to know more about their sexual preferences, having trialled and error-ed with more partners, and would probably equally know more about how to get a guy going.

Exciting…

Older women are gorgeous

Older women can be extremely attractive as they are more stable emotionally and more financially independent. They know more about what they want in life and are less insecure than younger girls can often be, because confidence often comes with age and knowing what you want from life.

They often just give off sexy vibes.

Social status

Counselling Psychologist Dr Benjamin Piper said it can also be the older woman’s social status that can attract younger guys. Basically, an older woman may appear more powerful and responsible, and younger guys may feel they don’t have to look after them and be responsible for them as much as they feel with younger girls.

They may even feel like they will be more looked after themselves which may be a very exciting prospect for some men. Which brings us to the next part…

Psychological theories 

It’s time to get weird. So everybody knows Freud, right? He’s got some psychological theories that are pretty out there, but that are widely known and still up for debate nonetheless. One of them is the Oedipal Complex.

Taken from the Ancient Greek play Oedipus, where the main character is predicted to kill his father and marry his mother, the Oedipus Complex is supposed to be the secret desire young boys feel for their mums.

It’s been suggested that this desire a young boy has for his mother comes out in adulthood through a sexual fantasy of sleeping with an older woman.

Wow.

To conclude

A lot of guys may feel attracted to older women, and there are quite a few reasons why they might be. But attraction is a complex thing. In fact, a 2015 US study of 35,000 volunteers showed that the biggest factor determining attraction is not genetics but actually your personal experiences –  including the friends you have made and even first loves.

Maybe Freud was onto something…

See you in a week, Sex Pod-ers!

Sex Pod: The big O!

This week, 19-year-old Ellie took to the Sex Pod sofa to ask a question that has been on her mind for a while: “I’ve never had an orgasm during sex and I just wanted to know, how can I achieve one?”

Ellie brought a very important topic to the table because rather than being an exception, she’s actually more the rule. And that’s because women often have more trouble climaxing than men, especially through just penetrative sex.

How common is orgasming through sex?

While one in three women find it difficult to orgasm through sex in general, as many as 80% of women find it difficult to orgasm through penetrative sex alone.

What makes climaxing more difficult for women?

Ellie told Sex Pod that she had never had an orgasm before, not even through masturbation. She said she had only masturbated a couple of times but couldn’t get in the mood, and was waiting for a man to finally get her there. BUT she complained that every time she has felt close to the big O, the guy she has been with has already climaxed and hasn’t bothered to help her get any further.

There can be many factors that determine whether or not a woman climaxes. Many women need clitoral stimulation in order to orgasm which is why pure penetrative sex doesn’t quite do it, but other there are other key factors involved. For example it’s important for a woman to be having sex with a partner who is patient and attentive to her needs, as it often takes women a while to climax.

A common mistake people can make is varying their technique too often – if something feels good for a woman but their partner stops doing it, then they can easily lose that impending orgasm.

How can I make sure I orgasm during sex?

Let’s face it, sex without orgasms is just not as fun and can be pretty frustrating in the long run. Our Sex Pod sexperts came together to give Ellie advice on how she can make sure she benefits just as much from sex as her partner.

Firstly, they said, you need a partner who is willing to invest time and effort in getting you to orgasm. Secondly, you need to know your own body and what you enjoy, and thirdly it’s then vital that you’re assertive and vocal in order to communicate to your sex bud exactly what that is.

But there are also physical techniques you can try out. Author of ‘Great British Sexpert’ Rebecca Dakin recommended stimulating the clitoral area with the man’s penis. “Use his penis as a massage stick… and you can alternate penetration and doing that,” she said. That way the woman “could have a clitoral orgasm with penetration going on at the same time.”

Sex advice columnist Alix Fox also recommended a technique called ‘orbiting’ when the woman’s nearing orgasm, which involves their partner moving their fingers in a figure of eight around her clitoral area.

What did Ellie learn?

Ellie said that Sex Pod encouraged her not to be scared to speak up about her preferences. She also said she learnt not to rely on a guy to get her to orgasm – that there are things you can do yourself that will help you get there, and that she needed to take control of her own pleasure in order to ensure a guy can pleasure her.

Everyone is so different and only you can know what actually turns you on. So go on – empower yourself by understanding your own body and speaking up, so that you can make sure you’re getting yours.

Until next week, Sex Pod-ers!

Looking after your penis: the Dos and Don’ts

Sami and Moses came in to ask Sex Pod a very important question: “How do we keep our penises clean and healthy?” Or, as Sami put it, “how do us guys keep our penis on point?”

Good question, Sami, and one that Kiran also raised on this week’s episode of Sex Pod.

It’s very important to look after your penis, the same way as it’s important to look after the rest of your body. Obviously a huge part of keeping your penis healthy is about good sexual health, and Sami and Moses had some interesting things to say on that front.

When asked if he used protection when having sex, Moses replied that he didn’t always because it depended on the person he was having sex with. “It depends on how I feel about that person and how I see that person, especially body language,” he explained.

How often do I need to use protection?

Though genital warts are an immediate physical sign of having a sexually transmitted infection (STI), often you can’t tell whether someone has an STI.

There are no visible signs of chlamydia, for example, and chlamydia is the most common type of STI, so it’s very important that you use protection EVERY time you have sex. If you’re having sex with a girl and she’s on the contraceptive pill or using another contraceptive method then this will only prevent pregnancy, not catching an STI, so you should still be using a condom, unless you are in a monogamous relationship and you’ve both been tested negative for STIs.

When Moses said, “It depends on how I see that person” he implied that someone could look like they’re likely to have an STI, but you can never judge someone’s sexual health by the way they look, or act. Someone who has had sex with one person and is very reserved could still have an STI from the one person they have slept with.

Most STIs are actually on the rise, so it’s very important to be careful and keep on top of your own sexual health.

Is alcohol a problem for my penis?

Alcohol isn’t good for your health in general, and can potentially have a negative impact on your penis. Our Genitourinary Medicine Specialist Dr. Lauren Bull says it can affect your penis both in the long term and in the short term.

Firstly, in the short term, if you are drunk you may not be able to get or maintain an erection and function sexually. Secondly, drinking often and in large quantities can actually affect your blood vessels and your nerves, which can also affect your ability to have a healthy and pleasurable sex life in the long run. So make sure you’re being sensible and that you are aware of the long term risks of heavy alcohol consumption.

Are there other ways I can keep my penis healthy?

If you keep the rest of your body healthy it will have an impact on your penis. Our Sexual Health Consultant Dr Jake Bayley recommends getting enough sleep, keeping alcohol consumption and smoking to a minimal, eating lots of fresh fruit and vegetables and, of course, giving your penis a good wash at least once a day using normal soap or shower gel. Easy!

You can also do pelvis floor exercises that will help you to maintain an erection for longer without ejaculating and ensure that you continue to have a healthy and pleasurable sex life as you age.

You can practice these exercises when you go to the toilet. All you have to do is hold in your pee for at least three seconds, release it, then repeat it again up to ten times. These exercises will help you strengthen your kegel muscles, and doing them around three times a day will be very good for you in the long run as muscles weaken with age.

 

Sex: marathon or sprint?

This week on Sex Pod, Jake came in to ask a very important question. He’d been watching porn and couldn’t quite get his head around how the male porn stars could maintain an erection for so long without ejaculating – he claimed they lasted from 40 minutes to an hour on average.

When asked how long he could maintain an erection Jake described his penis as somewhat unpredictable. He said how long he lasts can vary “from seconds to no longer than half an hour. I’d say I’ve got an average penis with about an average lasting time.”

So just how do porn stars last so long?

Jake assumed that porn stars were just lucky enough to be built to last for at least 40 minutes, but our panel of experts reminded him about how porn is more film production than sex.

Just like on any other film set, filming is often interrupted on porn sets and so stops and starts. Porn stars may use Viagra or special injections to maintain an erection for a long period of time, but there are also “fluffers” on set whose jobs are to help porn stars maintain their erection between takes.

Basically, it’s all fake and that’s why you should never compare how long you last to how long a porn star appears to.

But how long is the average lasting time?

An NHS study of 500 couples from five different countries put the average ejaculation time during intercourse as five-and-a half minutes. However there is no wrong or right amount of time that you should be having sex for – like most things it depends on the circumstances.

How long is too little?

It is up to you and your sexual partner to decide on whether you are satisfied with how long you last or not. There is no way anyone else should be dictating how you feel about your sex life, and if you and your partner are having enjoyable sex that you are both happy with then there is no reason to worry.

Premature ejaculation is a common issue for men, both as one-offs and in occasional episodes. It can have both physical and psychological causes. For example, premature ejaculation could be caused by prostate or thyroid problems, or by recreational drug-use. It can also be caused by depression, anxiety or stress.

If you are finding that you are ejaculating prematurely around half of the time you are attempting to have sex then you might need to visit a doctor. The main thing to note if you are suffering from premature ejaculation is that you are not alone – there are plenty of ways you can seek help, and plenty of remedies available to help you.

How can I last longer?

Although many choose to opt for Viagra as a solution to premature ejaculation, there are downsides to taking it. Dr. Lauren Bull, our Genitourinary Medicine Specialist on Sex Pod, described how one of those downsides is the risk that you may become psychologically dependent on it to get an erection. Which would NOT be ideal.

If you don’t think Viagra’s your thing you could use a cock ring which you slide to the base of your erect penis using lubricant. Cock rings help to keep the blood flow tight around your penis, giving you a longer lasting erection.

Other ways you can last longer include masturbating an hour or two before sex, taking breaks during sex to think about other not-so-sexy things, or even just taking a deep breath (it shuts down the ejaculatory reflex temporarily).